In 1934 Blackpool Illuminations started the tradition of inviting a celebrity or well known public figure to carry out a formal switching on ceremony where a large switch is thrown to bring on that years lights, the tradition continues to today.

Who has switched on the Blackpool Illuminations over the years? Here is a complete list of personalities who have switched on the Illuminations and the years they performed the switch on, most recent first.

  • 2018 Alfie Boe
  • 2017 Diversity (dance troupe) assisted by Star Trek’s Captain Lorca (Jason Isaacs)
  • 2016 Dame Barbara Windsor.
  • 2015 Tim Burton.
  • 2014 Peter Kay.
  • 2013 Jonathan Ross.
  • 2012 6 of Team GB’s London Olympics 2012 medalists. (Beth Tweddle, Greg Rutherford, Karina Bryant, Luke Campbell, Max Whitlock and Sophie Hosking).
  • 2011 Keith Lemon.
  • 2010 Robbie Williams.
     
  • 2009 Alan Carr.
  • 2008 The Stig with Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond from BBC Top Gear.
  • 2007 David Tennant.
  • 2006 Dale Winton.
  • 2005 Chris Evans.
  • 2004 Geri Halliwell.
  • 2003 Blue.
  • 2002 Ronan Keating.
  • 2001 Steps.
  • 2000 Westlife.
     
  • 1999 Gary Barlow.
  • 1998 Chris de Burgh.
  • 1997 Michael Ball.
  • 1996 Eternal.
  • 1995 Bee Gees.
  • 1994 Shirley Bassey.
  • 1993 Status Quo.
  • 1992 Lisa Stansfield.
  • 1991 Derek Jameson and Judith Chalmers.
  • 1990 Julie Goodyear and Roy Barraclough.
     
  • 1989 Frank Bruno.
  • 1988 Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman.
  • 1987 Frank Bough, Anne Gregg and Kathy Tayler, all from the BBC’s Holiday programme.
  • 1986 Les Dawson.
  • 1985 Joanna Lumley, BBC Children in Need, and Audrey Mossom (50 year anniversary).
  • 1984 Johannes Rau (Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia) and David Waddington,(Minister of State, the Home Office).
  • 1983 Cast of Coronation Street, switched on by Doris Speed.
  • 1982 Rear Admiral Sandy Woodward.
  • 1981 Earl & Countess Spencer.
  • 1980 Cannon and Ball.
     
  • 1979 Kermit the Frog and The Muppets.
  • 1978 Terry Wogan.
  • 1977 Red Rum (The Grand National winning racehorse).
  • 1976 Carol Jean Grant (Miss United Kingdom).
  • 1975 Doctor Who: (TV show) Tom Baker (as The Doctor) with Elisabeth Sladen and Ian Marter.
  • 1974 Wendy Craig.
  • 1973 Gordon Banks.
  • 1972 Danny La Rue.
  • 1971 The cast of Dad’s Army.
  • 1970 Tony Blackburn.
     
  • 1969 Canberra Bomber.
  • 1968 Matt Busby.
  • 1967 Horace King.
  • 1966 Ken Dodd.
  • 1965 David Tomlinson.
  • 1964 Gracie Fields.
  • 1963 Cliff Michelmore.
  • 1962 Shirley Anne Field.
  • 1961 Violet Carson.
  • 1960 Janet Munro.
     
  • 1959 Jayne Mansfield.
  • 1958 AE “Matty” Matthews (Alfred Edward Matthews).
  • 1957 John H. Whitney (American Ambassador).
  • 1956 Reginald Dixon.
  • 1955 Jacob Malik (Soviet Ambassador).
  • 1954 Gilbert Harding.
  • 1953 George Formby.
  • 1952 Valerie Hobson.
  • 1951 Stanley Matthews.
  • 1950 Wilfred Pickles.
     
  • 1949 Anna Neagle.
  • 1939-48 Blackpool Illuminations are cancelled due to World War II.
  • 1938 Councillor Mrs Quayle.
  • 1937 Prince George, Duke of Kent.
  • 1936 Sir Josiah Stamp.
  • 1935 Audrey Mossom (Railway Queen of Great Britain).
  • 1934 Lord Derby.

Blackpool Illuminations is a truly magnificent large scale event which the visitor can enjoy free of charge but such events do not come cheap and require a lot of planning, preparation and organisation.

Here are some interesting facts about Blackpool Illuminations:
  • Blackpool Illuminations started in 1879 with a magnificent display of eight arc lamps.
  • Blackpool Light show was so ahead of its time that it preceded Thomas Edison’s patenting of the electric light bulb the following year.
  • In 1879 Blackpool Illuminations are described as artificial sunshine, 100,000 people came to see this first Blackpool light show.
  • The equipment for Blackpool Illuminations weighs in at more than 711,000 kilograms, equivalent to 350 Blackpool trams.
  • Blackpool have supplied Illuminations to Jeddah Saudi Arabia.
  • Blackpool Illuminations has over one million lamps in the displays.
  • With the outbreak of war in 1939 the lights were prepared but never switched on.
  • Electronic controllers were pioneered in Blackpool Illuminations during the early 1960’s. Rope lights were also pioneered at Blackpool.
  • Most of Blackpool Light Show now operate on low voltage 24 volt.
  • Over two hundred miles of cable are deployed for Blackpool Illuminations.
  • The cost of putting on Blackpool Illuminations is over £2.2 million ($3.3 million).
  • Lighting equipment deployed for Blackpool Illuminations costs around £10 million ($15 million).
  • In 2004 Wind turbines at the Solarium on New South Promenade contributed to powering Blackpool Illuminations for the first time.
  • Blackpool Illuminations deployed the world’s first exterior LED technology in the light show in 2002.
  • An army of over three million visitors will spend more than £300 million ($450 million) in Blackpool during the lights display.
  • Full time staff of thirty people including Electricians, Joiners, Mechanics, Painters, Artists and Engineers, work all year round to ensure that Blackpool Illuminations are ready for switch on.
  • Over 65,000 work hours are used for maintenance, preparation, erection, operating and dismantling Blackpool Illuminations each year.
  • The Light-works Facility, opened in 2010, is a modern purpose built home for the Blackpool Illuminations team and their equipment.

Now that was interesting but to really experience the scale of Blackpool Illuminations a visit to Blackpool is a must and with the resort in full swing a weekend in Blackpool between 31st August and 4th November 2018 will be a weekend to remember.

We recommend long weekends in September where every Friday evening spectacular fireworks displays take place at the Blackpool World Fireworks Championships, a magnificent start to a fabulous weekend in Blackpool, Lancashire’s seaside town.

You may also like to see Blackpool festivals and events.